Facebook has denied eavesdropping on people’s conversations via their smartphones after claims that ads were being displayed based on people's recent conversations.
The claims came last week when Kelli Burns, mass communications professor at the University of South Florida, said that Facebook’s app appears to listen to people via the microphones in smartphones.
Clearly concerned by the potential damage to its reutation, Facebook issued a strong denial that it engages in any such activity.
"Facebook does not use your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed. Some recent articles have suggested that we must be listening to people’s conversations in order to show them relevant ads. This is not true," the firm said.
"We show ads based on people’s interests and other profile information, not what you’re talking out loud about."
Facebook clarified that the only time it would ever access the microphone on a phone is if the user gave permission and it was being used to record audio or video footage, not to listen to conversations.
“This might include recording a video or using an optional feature we introduced two years ago to include music or other audio in your status updates.”
Since the coverage that Burns’s comments caused, she has distanced herself from the stories claiming that Facebook was listening to calls.
"I believe there are a lot of strange circumstances and coincidences out there and people are looking for those," she said, as reported by the BBC.
"The fact that this story has gone global says a lot about people's concerns about privacy. I am not a scientist or a privacy expert, but I never said in that story that I believe Facebook can hear you."
The news comes at the same time that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had his Twitter and Pinterest accounts hacked, probably using data from the LinkedIn hack in 2012, now offered for sale, to access his accounts.
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